WHY TALKING TO CONSERVATIVES IS EXASPERATING…. J.D. Hayworth, the congressman-turned-right-wing-radio-host taking on Sen. John McCain in a GOP Senate primary, isn’t exactly the kind of guy to celebrate diversity. But it’s his approach to reality that deserves special attention.

A couple of days ago, Hayworth said during a radio interview, “[T]he Massachusetts Supreme Court, when it started this move toward same-sex marriage, actually defined marriage — now get this — it defined marriage as simply, ‘the establishment of intimacy.’” He went on to argue that such an approach would allow humans to marry horses.

There’s all kinds of things wrong with this, but if you look at the Massachusetts Supreme Court, there are no references to “the establishment of intimacy” as a standard for anything. The words simply aren’t there. Hayworth made up the quote.

Last night, Rachel Maddow asked Hayworth to explain his bizarre remarks. The exchange was quite illustrative. (via Alex Koppelman)

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For those of you who can’t watch clips from your work computers, Maddow tried to explain that she looked for evidence to support Hayworth’s claim, and couldn’t find any. “Well, that’s fine,” Hayworth said. “You and I can have a disagreement about that.”

“Well, it either is true or it isn’t,” Rachel responded. “It’s empirical.”

Hayworth, perhaps unaware of what “empirical” means, replied, “OK. OK. I appreciate the fact that we have a disagreement on that.”

And this is why conversations with conservatives never seem to go well. Reality is an inconvenient detail that can be twisted, manipulated, and frequently ignored.

In a normal, sensible debate, one side might make a provocative claim. The other side can challenge the claim, and provide evidence. If it’s proven false, the first side moves on to some other claim. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But that’s not how Republicans work. They make claims that aren’t true, and after being corrected, either repeat those claims again anyway, pretend the matter is subjective, or both.

It’s genuinely painful to listen to clowns for whom reality is meaningless.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.